What a week.
Late last week, former MLB pitcher Bob Welch died. He wasn’t an icon of his era, nor one of my heroes. But for kids who grew up watching baseball in the late 70s through the 80s, his passing was noted.
Then Casey Kasem.
And just as I was posting my thoughts about Casey on Monday came word that San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn had died.
Such a terrible run of days for our generation.
The remembrances of Tony Gwynn have been amazing. I loved him growing up, but because of where he played and who he played for, he was far down my list of favorite players. In fact, I probably heard him talk about baseball, and hitting in particular, than I actually saw him play. But his love of the game and the art of swinging the bat rang through in every interview and rendered that unfamiliarity pointless. Here was a great player who loved the game, loved talking about it, and seemed like a great guy.
I’m sure Tony wasn’t perfect. But, holy hell, these stories about him that have come out in recent days… They make me a bit sad that I didn’t appreciate him more, that I didn’t get to see him play live more, that I didn’t place him higher on my list of favorite players growing up.
So I’ll share three with you.
First, Tyler Kepner’s wonderful accounting of how Gwynn treated him with kindness and respect and may have helped launch his professional career.
Next, from David Johnson, the story of his year as a Padres bat boy, and the enduring memory of Gwynn: his laughter.
Finally, a classic Keith Olbermann monologue about Gwynn.